Farming Becomes Business for Rural Rice Producers

Farming business for rice producers
RUDI farmers show off their new milling machine and “Udzungwa Quality Rice” branded bag of rice. After the processing machines began running, farmers' revenue grew sevenfold.
Photo: USAID COMPETE
“The machine has liberated our farmers, and is helping them get out of poverty.” — Idodi Farmer Association Secretary Jane Katibu

The mission of Rural-Urban Development Initiative (RUDI), a Tanzanian non-governmental organization, has been to help smallholder rice farmers in central Tanzania increase profits through better farming and increased access to markets.

In 2009, RUDI approached the USAID Competitiveness and Trade Expansion (COMPETE) Trade Hub with a grant proposal for training, improved storage facilities, access to finance, collective marketing and high quality machines to process rice.

RUDI farmers had been selling unprocessed rice (“paddy”) for an average of U.S. 15 cents a kilogram. Yet when well milled, the same rice can fetch up to $1.10 per kilo in East Africa.

After the milling machines began running, farmers' revenue grew sevenfold. Idodi Farmer Association Secretary Jane Katibu says: “The machine has liberated our farmers, and is helping them get out of poverty.”

RUDI farmers have branded their milled rice “Udzungwa Quality Rice” named for the stunning mountains that span the production area. Their goal is to market “Udzungwa Quality Rice” to large traders – sending their rice to the shelves of the largest supermarkets in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, responding to a growing demand among East African consumers.

After only four months of operation a RUDI farmers association, Mang’ula A, made $3,150 in net profit for its 32 shareholders, demonstrating significant earnings in a country where the estimated average farmer’s net profit is $65 annually.

Mang’ula A’s success has gained the attention of other development partners, and the association has become a learning center. The Tanzania Warehouse Licensing Board signed a contract to expand the Mang’ula A warehouse; the African Development Foundation and Center for Sustainable Development Initiatives developed a program to install industrial driers. The association now receives daily visitors keen to learn about rice processing.

RUDI farmers are reinvesting their earnings. They are creating more warehouse storage, buying industrial driers and promoting a brand that stands for quality and the beauty of Tanzania. For RUDI associations, farming has become a viable business.

Last updated: September 20, 2013

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